26 September 2017

Liberia: MPW Has Mobile App for Citizens to Report Infrastructure Issues

Photo: Răzvan Băltărețu/Flickr
(File photo).

some of the beneficiaries of the newly program being introduced of reporting on damage roads, infrastructures across the country

As a way to spur citizens' participation in the Government of Liberia's infrastructural development efforts, a technology platform using internet and mobile short message system (SMS) on the verge of implementation through an international technology firm, Tiger Party.

The online mobile platform, under the auspices of the Infrastructure Implementation Unit (IIU) of the Ministry of Public Works (MPW) will create the opportunity for citizens to directly report most infrastructural problems affecting them anywhere in the country to the Ministry via internet or SMS.

The platform can be accessed via Internet through its mobile application, but those without internet can also report infrastructure issues in their location by sending an SMS to the short-code 9696, from any local mobile number.

The internet-based part of the platform will allow citizens to give detailed explanation, including images about damage on a road or on government infrastructures in all parts of the country for timely redress. According to the Tiger Party, this is expected to include utility services provided by the Government of Liberia, such as electricity, water and sanitation. In the case of such utilities, the MPW, which receives the information, will relay those messages to the utility providers -- Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) and Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation (LWSC), respectively.

Though the current exercise is yet limited to infrastructure, the platform also bears the potential to expand to include other services provided by GOL, such as education, healthcare and agriculture extension services anywhere in the country, through this platform.

A screenshot of the IIU online platform, showing where on the map of Liberia infrastructural issues have occurred, as reported by ordinary citizens.

The Tiger Party is currently training several Liberians of diverse professional backgrounds at the Ministry of Public Works (MPW) on a possible way of mapping Liberia's development challenges, using the platform.

The training session kicked off on September 18 and ended on Friday September 22 with a focus to reveal an easy way of highlighting development challenges for government's quick intervention. A source told the Daily Observer that the media has been identified as one of the key institutions that poised to benefit from the training in the coming weeks.

The training was facilitated by Genesh Ramanathan, Tiger Party Creative Director, and Vasilisa Kosova, a senior staff of the company.

According to sources, the program has been in development for the past two years, but within the circle of authority at the Ministry of Public Work.

The training is said to aid Liberia's Infrastructure Implementation Units in fast tracking development, when completed in various sectors across Liberia.

The program, being the first of its kind, was viewed by some participants as a way of easing government's burden of taking long time to address development challenges in other parts of the country. However, the real test of the effectiveness of the platform will depend not only on citizens reporting infrastructural issues wherever they occur, but the government's capacity to respond in a timely and efficient manner. Considerations for the scale of budgetary support could be as high as the cost of addressing the deplorable condition of roads to Lofa and the Southeast every year during the rainy season, or addressing a power outage on a light pole in a community in DuPort Road, for example.

Participants called on Tiger Party to promote awareness about the platform in rural Liberia, particularly among students. Seeing its potential, participants said there is a need that the platform also be implemented at other ministries and agencies instead of a single government institution.

Tiger Party specializes in concept design and development in the Digital Interactive Domain which encompasses mobile apps, touch-screen interfaces for kiosks, websites and other custom applications development.

Users are invited to login to actively participate in the infrastructure development initiative.

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